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How Blockchain Transformed Zimbabwe’s Beef Export Market

Like many African countries, agriculture is the economic mainstay of Zimbabwe. Agricultural activities contribute 40 per cent of total export earnings and approximately 17 per cent to GDP in the country. In 2018, their agricultural sector experienced a change in fortune with the outbreak of a tick-borne disease that caused the death of 50,000 cattle. Zimbabwe is renowned for the quality of its beef and export strength. Beef from Zimbabwe is one of the best globally, and it only falls second to Scotch beef from Scotland. At a time, Zimbabwe’s beef cattle herd raked in about $50 million yearly from exports to the lucrative European market, like the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands. The unprecedented tick-borne outbreak caused a setback for this booming market, and the country’s credibility as an international beef exporter began to dwindle. Zimbabwe could not sell beef to high-paying markets in Europe and the Middle East due to a lack of a traceability system, resulting in lower export earnings. Last year, a blockchain-based cattle traceability system brought end-to-end visibility to the cattle supply chain in the country. Zimbabwean farmers could again prove the origin and health records of their cattle. Cattles are tagged with a unique, ultra-high frequency radio-frequency identification tag and registered on a traceability system with the owner’s identity. Each time the animal gets dipped, vaccinated, or receives medical treatment, the tag logs the event onto the system.